Toronto backtracks on return-to-office plans for city employees as Omicron spreads through Toronto
TORONTO — City employees across the city are bracing for an upcoming vote that could result in a controversial return-to-work initiative for city workers.
On Thursday, Ontario’s Labour Relations Board will rule on a request from the city and unions that will be put forward by the city.
The Omicron (Ontario) campaign for employee rights has been around for two decades, and was launched by former mayoral candidate and then-councillor John Tory.
The campaign has been criticized by labour and community activists who feel it goes against the wishes of Torontonians. For its part, Omicron says its mission is to protect city workers and offer a fair contract.
“The Omicron (Ontario) campaign is simply part of our mission to ensure employees have recourse in the event they lose their jobs or are subject to unfair termination or discipline on the basis of their union activity,” its website states. “We recognize that employees in all sectors of our city face varying amounts of unpredictability in their work environment, and we are committed to ensuring their livelihood is secure.”
Tory made headlines when he suggested City Council “un-elect” seven council members, including himself, if they weren’t willing to back Omicron’s campaign. In the last week, the city has received more than 90 letters of support. The city has also seen more than 25 signatures on a petition.
The province says its decision to send a decision on the city’s Omicron bid back to the board could come as early as Friday evening.
The province’s labour relations system is designed in a way that it can take months or up to a year for a decision on an Omicron case to be made.
The province’s Labour Relations Board made it clear that there are no exceptions when it comes to a union proposal being considered for its Omicron status.
“Unions may propose that the board refuse to grant the union status in whole or in part based on any reason, but in such cases the board must act upon any such refusal within 45 days or the union must cease to represent employees in such proceedings,” the province states in the rules.